Borderline Issues Make College Harder, but Not Impossible

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) causes highly unstable emotions, which can be hard on relationships and impede success at work and at school. Since many career paths depend on higher levels of education, managing BPD symptoms so that college goals can be reached is a matter of significant consequence. It is possible to cope with the illness and earn one or more advanced degrees – but you need a plan to make it happen.

De-Stress Where You Can

Higher education is a stress-filled environment. Getting to class, making time to study and doing well on outside assignments present a challenge to all students. But having BPD means that you tend to move the stress-dial up several notches compared to your peers. What everyone else feels, you experience more intensely and for a longer amount of time.

Since you can’t change those stressors, do what you can to manage them. Consider taking on a smaller class load. Attend a junior college, take online courses or study as a nontraditional student so that you can escape the stress each day. Be sure to maintain regular sleep and exercise, which naturally help you decompress. Make sure to schedule time with friends or family to help maintain a more even keel.

Find Ways to Be a Better Time Manager

For some with this illness, impulse control can be a real problem. Instead of meeting a mundane responsibility you indulge momentary whims. This creates stress down the pike when those responsibilities (homework, school projects) still need attention. To help deal with impulsivity, try using a smartphone app that will set and remind you of timelines. Another idea is to partner with a classmate so that you are accountable for meeting milestone requirements.

Stay Connected to Your Supports

Although going away to college is considered the norm, plenty of students attend a school closer to home, and you should consider being one of them. For the student with BPD staying connected to the home support system is critical. For the first year or two you might even choose to live at home. Once the pace of college life is not such a stress factor, you could move out on your own, but don’t go far. Loneliness can trigger feelings of abandonment and a cascade of other symptoms. Having people around who know and love you will make a difference in your ability to see your college endeavor through to the end.